Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My daughter loves science challenges where she has to find solutions for real problems. Here is how she approached the problem of preventing ice from melting.
A Science Challenge for Kids: Prevent Ice from Melting

The Curious Kid’s Science Book

My daughter was delighted when I received The Curious Kid’s Science Book for review from my blog friend Asia Citro. Asia believes that even youngest kids can design their own science experiments using materials available in our kitchens, backyards, and recycling bins, and her book is targeted towards kids between ages 4 and 8. Smarty is going to be 9 in October, but neither she nor I found this book to be “too young” for her. What we really appreciated about the book is that many activities are designed as science inquiries. Asia gives a list of materials needed, but no prepackaged answer as to what to expect. Children are expected to brainstorm possible solutions to a question or problem posed by the experiment and then design an experiment to confirm their hypothesis. In other words, they are encouraged to think and behave as real scientists. I highly recommend Asia’s book as an addition to your home or school science library.

Brainstorm the Ways to Prevent Ice from Melting

Since we are sort of studying states of matter at home, Smarty and I chose one of the experiments in “Water and Ice” section of The Curious Kid’s Science Bookdesigning ways to prevent ice from melting. There was a hitch though. Smarty immediately said that the best way to prevent ice from melting is to place it in the vacuum, and she wanted to figure out the ways to make vacuum at home. Scientifically, she was quite right, but practically this was not a feasible approach. She was disappointed, because any other solution would be “less than perfect”. We had to digress a bit and discuss how people tried to keep things cool long before they knew about vacuum. This is when she thought of a cooler and a thermos, and we discussed a bit how thermos works. Eventually, she proposed three methods to keep ice from melting – placing it in a Styrofoam cooler, making a “fridge” with double wall glass, and placing it in oobleck. I honestly do not know how she came up with oobleck idea, since it contradicted everything she already knew about heat transfer. I think it was mostly an excuse to make more oobleck. At least she proposed to cool oobleck in the fridge first to make it colder than room temperature.

Set up the Experiment

Double Walled Fridge
We discussed the setup of experiment before getting to it. We agreed that we need to put the same amount of ice in the container, and use the same method of preventing warm air from getting into it. Smarty opted to use aluminum foil and rubber bands for the top of her glass containers. We also agreed that we need to work quickly to set it all up, because otherwise we cannot compare time properly. We also had one “control container” that contained the same amount of ice and was also covered with aluminum foil. Just for fun, we put different colored ice in each container.

Observe the Results

In our observation, control container melted first, followed shortly by oobleck (duh!). A Styrofoam container did rather poorly as well, but we got it out of a hot garage for this experiment, and even though we put some cooling packs inside, the temperature inside was only somewhat colder than outside room air. A double-wall fridge, however, did rather well – it took 30 minutes for ice to melt fully while inside of this container. But Smarty didn’t wait for the end results this time – she was too excited to take her oobleck outside for some messy play.

Your Turn

A science challenge for kids: designing ways to prevent ice from melting

How do you get your kids think like scientists?

More States of Matter Science for Kids

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An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

This could have a great history tie in too, looking up the history of ice houses. How did people used to keep ice before freezers?

Ticia said...

Ha ha ha ha, she had to hurry out and try out the oobleck, sounds like what happens in my house.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

This is a great science activity! We love that science book :)